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Catholic Recipe: Gesztenye Krém


  • 1-1/2 pounds chestnuts
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cream, whipped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • milk
  • Details

  • Prep Time: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: Hungary

Also Called: Chestnut Cream

In days of old, this was the greatest Hungarian holiday, the feast of the first king and the patron saint of his country, converted from paganism to Christianity in the year 985. He made of Hungary a Christian nation and placed it under the patronage of the Mother of God. His feast was celebrated with special grandeur in Budapest, where a most magnificent procession took place yearly, in which was carried aloft for public veneration the reliquary containing the incorrupt right hand of Saint Stephen.

Today these processions are only a memory in Hungary, although the day is celebrated by Hungarian exiles in other parts of the world. In happier times in Budapest, peasants from miles around poured into the city the night before his feast to await the procession. It started from the Chapel of the Royal Palace, where the relics were kept, and included hundreds of marching children, members of religious organizations, military leaders, and splendidly garbed officials of Church and State. Acolytes in white and red accompanied the last prelate bearing aloft the gold-encrusted reliquary. The line of march proceeded through the streets to the Matthias Church where Mass was celebrated, and returned afterwards to the Royal Chapel.

The festivities that followed often lasted the night through, and not until several days later had all the crowds departed. There was no lack of good food. Vegetables and fruit were plentiful, especially melons. And the people feasted on such dishes as Paprikás Csirke and Gesztenye Krém.

St. Stephen's feast is now celebrated on August 16, instead of August 20, and is an optional memorial on the General Roman Calendar.


Remove the outer and inner skins of the chestnuts and boil until soft with sufficient milk to cover. Pass through a sieve. Combine the sugar and water and cook for about ten minutes. Mix the chestnut puree and the sugar syrup and, when cool, add the vanilla and the whipped cream. Pile high on a serving dish and serve very cold.

Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951
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